Admissions: How Colleges Select Students

About this article
With the number of people wanting to attend college on the rise, schools are becoming more selective in whom they accept. This article contains information that introduces you, the potential student, to the college selection process.
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Admission officers evaluate applications in several different ways, depending on how competitive their college is. In terms of selectivity, colleges and universities fall into three basic categories:

  1. Less Selective
  2. More Selective
  3. Very Selective

Less Selective Colleges:

Less selective colleges usually determine your acceptance by posing two questions: have you met the college's basic requirements and does the college itself have availability? While not required for admission, ACT and/or SAT scores may be used for placement.

More Selective Colleges:

More selective colleges, which is the category most colleges fit into, have stricter standards. These colleges and universities look at the following:

  • Admission Test (ACT/SAT) Scores
  • Course Work
  • Grades
  • Letters of Recommendations (if requested)
  • Personal Statements/Essays

Very Selective Colleges:

Finally, very selective colleges evaluate students on all above-named criteria and more. Very selective colleges scrutinize every aspect of a student's high school experience. Many applicants that apply to very selective schools are already strong academically, thus factor such as your personal statement and transcript are critical.

In normal situations admission officers will follow what is called a need-blind admission policy. In other words, yours and your family's income is not a factor in determining whether you are accepted or not. In some cases, admissions officers are 'need conscious,' so at these schools you and your family's income is a factor.

Collegeboard.com states that selective colleges consider these factors for admission:

  • Admission Test (ACT/SAT) Scores
  • Alumni Relationship
  • Application Questions and Essays
  • Completed Courses
  • Counselor and/or Teacher Recommendations
  • Ethnicity
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Geographic Location
  • Grades
  • Grade Point Average
  • Major and/or College Chosen
  • Personal Interview
  • Rank in Graduating Class
  • Special Talents and Skills

Now that you have a better idea of what colleges are looking for, you will be able to meet these prerequisites with confidence.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Ashford University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.A. - Education
      • MA-Psychology
      • MS-Criminal Justice
      • MBA - Media Management
      • MBA
      • MA/Education - School Leadership in the 21st Century
    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Journalism and Mass Communication
      • B.A. - Psychology
      • BA/Education Studies
      • B.A. - Business Admin
      • B.A. - Communication Studies
      • B.A. - Liberal Arts
    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts - Early Childhood Education
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
      • Master of Science - DNP Path (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
    Master's
      • MSCJ: Law
      • Master: Legal Studies
      • MS in Psychology
      • Master : Business Admin
      • Master: Psychology/General Psychology
      • MSPY - Industrial/Organizational Psychology Specialization
    Bachelor's
      • Undergraduate in Legal Studies
      • Bachelor: Liberal Studies
      • Bachelor of Business Admin
      • BSBA - Investment
      • BS in Liberal Studies Leadership
      • Bachelor: Nutrition Science
    Associate's
      • AASBA in Business
      • AAS in Legal Support and Services
      • Associate: Business Admin.
      • Associate: Business Admin. - Office Mgmt
      • Associate: Criminal Justice
      • Associate: Accounting
    Certificate
      • Psychology
      • Medical Assisting
      • Certificate in Human Services
      • Medical Office Administration
      • Human Services Certificates in Child and Family Services
      • Postbaccalaureate Certificate - Pathway to Paralegal
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
      • PhD in Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
      • Doctor of Business Admin - General Business
      • PhD-TIM - Computer Science
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Management
      • Ed.D. - Sports Management
    Master's
      • M.A. in Psychology - General Psychology
      • MBA - Applied Computer Science
      • Master of Business Admin - General Business
      • MEd - General Education
      • Master of Business Admin - Accelerated General MBA
      • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Criminal Justice
    Certificate
      • Education Specialist - Organizational Leadership
      • Education Specialist - Special Education
      • Education Specialist - International Education
      • Education Specialist - Early Childhood Education
      • Education Specialist - Curriculum and Teaching
      • Education Specialist - Instructional Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    4. University of the Rockies

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Philosophy in Education - Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
      • Doctor of Philosophy in Education
      • Doctor of Psychology - Criminology and Justice Studies
      • Doctor of Philosophy in Human Services
      • Psy.D. in Non-Profit Management
      • Psy.D. in Organizational Leadership
    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Education
      • Master of Arts in Psychology - General Psychology
      • Master of Arts in Psychology - Criminology and Justice Studies
      • M.A. in Psychology - Organizational Leadership
      • M.A. in Psychology - Business Psychology
      • M.A. in Psychology - Career Management & Counseling
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Southern New Hampshire University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Higher Education Administration
      • MS in Criminal Justice
      • MBA in Criminal Justice
      • MEd in Curriculum and Instruction - Dyslexia Studies & LBLD
      • MS in Psychology
      • MA in Communication
    Bachelor's
      • BA in Psychology
      • BA Psychology w/conc in Applied Psychology
      • BA Communications w/conc in New Media
      • BS Computer Science
      • BA in Communication
      • BA in Psychology - Forensic Psychology
    Associate's
      • AA in Liberal Arts
      • AS in Marketing
      • AS in Accounting
      • AS in Business Administration
      • AA in Digital Photography
      • AS Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • DBA - Management
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
      • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
      • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Special Education
      • Ph.D. in General Psychology - Cognition and Instruction
      • Ph.D. in General Psychology - Industrial and Organizational Psychology
    Master's
      • M.S. Psychology with an Emphasis in Gerontology
      • M.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Human Factors
      • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
      • MS in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
      • MS in Psychology: General Psychology
      • M.B.A. with an Emphasis in Project Management
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
      • BS in Applied Management
      • BS in Psychology
      • B.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance and Sports Psychology
      • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
      • BS in Accounting
    Certificate
      • Graduate Certificate of Completion in GeroPsychology
      • Graduate Certificate of Completion in Industrial and Organizational Psychology
      • Graduate Certificate of Completion in Forensic Psychology
      • Graduate Certificate of Completion in Health Psychology
      • Graduate Certificate of Completion in Human Factors Psychology
      • Graduate Certificate of Completion in Life Coaching
  • Campus Locations:
    7. Steiner Education Group

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Massage Therapy
      • Esthetics (Skin Care)
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Regent University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
      • Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership
      • Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership - Ecclesial Leadership
      • Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership - Entrepreneurial Leadership
      • Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership - Individualized
      • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Global Consulting
    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Communication
      • Master of Arts in Communication - Political Communication
      • Master of Arts in Communication - Strategic Communication
      • Master of Arts in Government - Political Communication
      • Master of Arts in Journalism
      • Master of Arts in Law - Business
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
      • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies
      • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Journalism
      • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Rhetoric and Public Culture
      • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Strategic Communication
      • Bachelor of Arts in English - Communication
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice
      • Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership
      • Doctor of Ministry
    Master's
      • Master of Public Administration - Criminal Justice
      • Master of Business Administration - Health Care Administration
      • M.A. Organizational Leadership
      • Master of Education - School Administration
      • Master of Education - Special Education
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. Criminal Justice
      • BS Human Communications
      • B.S. General Studies - Communication
      • B.S. General Studies - Criminal Justice
      • B.S. General Studies - Liberal Arts
    Associate's
      • A.S. Business
      • A.S. Criminal Justice
      • A.S. General Studies - Business
      • A.S. General Studies - Communications
      • A.S. General Studies - Criminal Justice
      • A.S. General Studies - Liberal Arts
    Certificate
      • Graduate Biology Certificate
      • Undergraduate Certificate - Communications
      • Undergraduate Certificate - Criminal Justice
      • Post-Master's Certificate - Primary Care
      • Undergraduate Certificate - General Studies
      • Undergraduate Certificate - Human Services
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Johns Hopkins University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Communication
      • Master of Liberal Arts
      • Master of Arts in Science Writing
      • Master of Science in Applied Economics
      • Master of Science in Geographic Information Systems
      • Master of Science in Biotechnology and Certificate in National Security Studies Dual Degree
    Certificate
      • Certificate in Government Analytics
      • Certificate in Biotechnology Enterprise
      • Post-Bachelor's Certificate in Applied Research for Communication
      • Post-Master's Certificate in Sequence Analysis and Genomics
      • Certificate in Geographic Information Systems
      • Certificate in Biotechnology Education

Featured Schools

Ashford University

  • M.A. - Education
  • B.A. - Journalism and Mass Communication
  • Associate of Arts - Early Childhood Education

What is your highest level of education?

Kaplan University

  • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
  • MSCJ: Law
  • Undergraduate in Legal Studies
  • AASBA in Business
  • Psychology

Which subject are you interested in?

Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
  • M.A. in Psychology - General Psychology
  • Education Specialist - Organizational Leadership

What is your highest level of education?

University of the Rockies

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Education - Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Education
  • Master of Arts in Education
  • Master of Arts in Psychology - General Psychology

What is your highest level of education?

Southern New Hampshire University

  • MS in Higher Education Administration
  • BA in Psychology
  • AA in Liberal Arts

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • DBA - Management
  • M.S. Psychology with an Emphasis in Gerontology
  • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
  • Graduate Certificate of Completion in GeroPsychology

What is your highest level of education?

Steiner Education Group

  • Massage Therapy
  • Esthetics (Skin Care)

What is your highest earned degree?

Regent University

  • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Communication
  • Bachelor of Applied Science in Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education completed?